Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.
Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, soak in water, cut in thick slices and dry.
Dosage: 3-10 grams
Main actions according to TCM*: Harmonizes exterior and interior. Smoothes the Liver and upraises the Yang.
Contraindications*: Not suitable for those whose Liver Qi is already uprising.
Source date: Ming dynasty
Number of ingredients: 10 herbs
Formula key actions: Clears Liver and Spleen Qi Stagnation. Tonifies Spleen. Clears Deficient Heat. Nourishes the blood.
Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Jia Wei Xiao Yao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Jia Wei Xiao Yao San, Chai Hu spreads the Liver Qi, relieves stagnation and helps guide the other herbs into the Liver. Because of its cooling nature, it is also particularly dealing with Qi Stagnation that has started to generate Heat.
Source date: 1107 AD
Number of ingredients: 6 herbs
Formula key actions: Harmonizes the function of Liver and Spleen. Relieves Liver Qi stagnation. Nourishes the Blood.
Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Xiao Yao San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Xiao Yao San, Chai Hu spreads the Liver Qi, relieves stagnation and helps guide the other herbs into the Liver. Because of its cooling nature, it is also particularly dealing with Qi Stagnation that has started to generate Heat.
Source date: 1602
Number of ingredients: 7 herbs
Formula key actions: Disperses Stagnant Liver Qi and Blood. Alleviates pain. Harmonizes Blood.
Chai Hu is a king ingredient in Chai Hu Shu Gan San. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), Chai Hu belongs to the 'Cool/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Cool/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by dilating our capillary pores so that they release more sweat. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.
As suggested by its category Chai Hu is Cool in nature. This means that Chai Hu tends to help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Cold in nature. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition Chai Hu can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.
Chai Hu also tastes Bitter. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like Chai Hu tends to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements.
The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such Chai Hu is thought to target the Gallbladder and the Liver. Similar to modern medicine, in TCM the Gallbladder stores and releases bile produced by the Liver. It also controls the emotion of decisiveness. The Liver on the other hand is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.
Bupleurum root extracts exhibit evident anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antiviral, anti-allergic, immunoregulation, and neuroregulation activities.1
Integrative medicine that include thorowax root could adjust immune function to display a quick, potent anti-inflammatory and anti-anaphylactic actions in treating chronic urticaria with less adverse reaction and low recurrence rates.2
1. Yuan B, Yang R, Ma Y, Zhou S, Zhang X, Liu Y. (2017). A systematic review of the active saikosaponins and extracts isolated from Radix Bupleuri and their applications. Pharm Biol. , 55(1):620-635.
2. Jin CY, Wang DL, Fang ZD. (2008 ). Effect of integrative Chinese and Western medicine in treating chronic urticaria and its impact on interleukin-10 and interleukin-8 in peripheral blood. Zhongguo Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Za Zhi. , 28(4):358-60.